this is bbc news. welcome if you're watching here in the uk, on pbs in america or around the globe. i'm lewis vaughan jones. our top stories: china changes the way it counts the coronavirus the numbers have soared to a new high. italy's parliament votes to allow ex—interior minister matteo salvini to face trial for stopping migrants from landing. the pope says no to married priests, not even in the world's most remote regions. and a turtle as big as a car — scientists in south america unearth a fossil of giant proportions.
hello and welcome to bbc news. the chinese province at the centre of the coronavirus epidemic has reported a sharp rise in the number of confirmed deaths after changing its methods of diagnosis. hubei province said there had been an additional 2a2 fatalities, more than double the previous daily record. it's also announced nearly 15,000 new cases. the change in diagnostic approach comes days after top health officials in hubei were sacked. 0ur correspondent, nick beake, has the latest from hong kong. quite interesting, these official figures that china's authorities have been giving us. that particular statistic you quote, 242, that is the highest number by far of daily reported deaths. 2a2 people died with the new coronavirus yesterday. just for some context, the previous highest number was 103. now, we've been trying to get to the bottom of this,
and it turns out that what the chinese authorities are now doing, they are including both in the number of deaths and also the number of overall cases, people who have gone to see a doctor and the doctor has thought yes, probably you do have the new coronavirus, but they haven't been tested for it officially. so that is why we're getting many more people included in the figures. and, for example, the number of new cases yesterday was some 14,800. again, for a comparison, the previous number was 3,800. so i think what we're getting here is a much clearer picture of the extent of this virus. people will be able to look again, i think, at the mortality rate, but in essence it's a pretty bleak picture. many more people have it than we previously thought, and many more people have died from it. and of course, the world health organization saying it is impossible, really, to predict where this goes in the future. yeah, the picture from the world health organization, the bigger picture, would appear to be promising. they say this could go on any direction, but looking at theirfigures, it
seems to have stabilised outside mainland china. so i think, for the countries where we did see that initial spread in the early days, there haven't been more countries coming forward saying look, this has affected us. but if you live in wuhan, the main city in hubei province, it seems to be an extremely grim picture there, and this does tally with what we're hearing. some people have said that their loved ones have died, they think with the coronavirus, but they've been unable to get a bed in a hospital because they haven't been officially diagnosed, because there hadn't been an official test and official confirmation. so again, for the wider picture, the world as a whole, more promising, but if you are living in hubei province, it looks pretty, pretty grim. that was nick beake there and there is plenty more on our website. you can always download the bbc news app and
there is more there. the leader of italy's far—right league party — matteo salvini — faces prosecution over his decision to stop more than 100 rescued migrants disembarking from a coastguard vessel last year. italy's senate voted to strip mr salvini of his parliamentary immunity to allow the prosecution to go ahead. rich preston has this report. italian lawmakers are immune from prosecution for actions taken whilst in office. wednesday's decision in italy's senate removes that immunity from matteo salvini. members of his own league party left the chamber, refusing to take part in the vote. for his part, matteo salvini says he wants to go to court, saying he is proud of what he did, and that he would defend his actions. translation: my children have the right to know that their father is away from home not because he is spending time kidnapping human beings, but because he is defending the borders and security of his country. that was his precise duty — not his right, his duty. he compared himself to the us
president, donald trump, saying like mrtrump, his opponents were trying to use the courts to undermine his political success. matteo salvini's hardline anti—immigrant policies have made him a success with voters. as interior minister, he routinely blocked rescue boats from docking in italian ports, forcing many to stay at sea for days. in 2019, an italian coastguard boat, the gregoretti, picked up 140 migrants trying to cross the mediterranean. while some were allowed off for medical attention, more than 100 were forced to stay on board for nearly a week. prosecutors accused mr salvini of effectively kidnapping the people. and this isn't the only potential prosecution facing matteo salvini. later this month, he faces losing his immunity over another similar case. if he is convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison. if he is acquitted, it is almost certain he will be back in the political game,
buoyed by his victory, and his supporters reinvigorated by the failure of the courts to get the guy who — for them — is out to save italy. let's get some of the day's other news: nato says it will step up its fight against international terrorism, by expanding its training mission in iraq. us president donald trump had previously demanded more action from allies in the middle east. nato has a 500—strong mission in iraq to train local government forces who are fighting the group calling itself islamic state. the israeli prime minister, benjamin netanyahu, has fiercely attacked the un human rights office over its publication of a long delayed list of companies active in israeli settlements, accusing it of trying to blacken israel's name. the palestinian foreign minister called it a victory for international law. venezuela's opposition leader, juan guaido, has accused authorities of detaining his uncle when the two men returned from a foreign trip on tuesday.
mr guaido blamed president nicolas maduro for the disappearance ofjuan jose marquez at caracas international airport. the opposition leader was heckled by government supporters after they landed. a 52—year—old man is due to appear in court in londonderry later on thursday, charged with the murder of thejournalist, lyra mckee. the 29—year—old was shot dead while observing riots in the city in april last year. in what was a highly anticipated decision — pope francis has opted against opening up the roman catholic priesthood to married men in certain remote regions. last year a synod of bishops voted in favour of a such a proposal for the amazon, where there's a shortage of clergy. but the pope instead focused on other issues affecting the region's estimated 33 million people, including the environment. the pope's 32—page document, called an exhortation, did not even mention the proposal, which was designed to increase the number
of priests who could perform mass in remote areas. he wrote instead that new ways must be found to expand the roles of lay people and permanent deacons — who can be married. "priests are necessary," he said, "but this does not mean that permanent deacons, religious women and lay persons cannot regularly assume important responsibilities for the growth of communities." we can cross live now to lima in peru and speak to barbara fraser, a former catholic church volunteer who's written about amazon indigenous issues. thank you for being with us. what do you make of the pope ‘s decision here? it was interesting and it came to a surprise to some of the people i spoke to at the synod in october. they were hoping for more. the press conference at the vatican when the exhortation was presented, the official word is basically that this exhortation is official church teaching that comes out
of the synod. the recommendations that came out of the synod remains as a series of recommendations and the pope says in the exhortation that the exhortation that the exhortation can't be read without taking those representations into consideration. several bishops who i talk to today said the door is open to further discussion, but it is a process. so, i'm slightly confused. does that mean it could change? we start with the basis that this is a rule, isn't it? it's not official doctrine or anything, it can be changed by people, a different pope for example could make a different decision? a different pope could make a different decision. and this is not the first time this has come up. i know that this issue came up at least in the 1960s in peru when missionaries from the united states petitioned the vatican for something similar. canadian
bishops have petitioned and i believe ships somewhere africa have petitioned in the last 40-50 have petitioned in the last 40—50 years. this isn't the first time it has come up and it won't be the last. what other specific issues going on there in these regions? —— what are the specific issues? it often has to do with the church's ecclesiastical structures. this ordaining married men who were deacons, older men who were respected in the community so they could celebrate the eucharist, some form of the argument, some form of official church position for women and something called an amazonian rate which would be incorporating amazonian traditions, and symbols into the mass stop the issue of married men being priests and women deacons were not even mentioned in the exhortation.
the amazonian right was consigned to a footnote. it basically means the emphasis was on the environmental issues, indigenous issues, even though 40% of the exhortation is devoted to church issues. there is still the ambiguous nurse about how quickly the church is going to be able to move forward and be willing to move forward and be willing to move forward and be willing to move forward on this. certainly there is a question about what there is a question about what the pope's successor, whoever he may be, do with this. we will see if the position changes in the future. barbara fraser, thank you very much for your time. thank you. stay with us on bbc news, still to come: it's a vegetable bed — but not as you know it. this camp for syrian refugees is using mattresses to grow food. there's mr mandela.
mr nelson mandela, a free man, taking his first steps into a new south africa. iran's spiritual leader, ayatollah khomeini, has said he's passed a death sentence on salman rushdie, the british author of a book which many muslims say is blasphemous. the people of haiti have flocked to church to give thanks for the ousting of their former president, 'ba by doc' duvalier. because of his considerable value as a stallion, shergar was kept in a special, secure box in the stud farm's central block. shergar was driven away in a horse box the thieves had brought with them. there stepped down from the plane a figure in mourning. elizabeth ii, queen of this realm and of all her other realms and territories, head of the commonwealth, defender of the faith.
this is bbc world news. the latest headlines: china has sacked the top communist party official in hubei, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, hours after the province reported a huge increase in cases and deaths. italy's parliament has stripped the country's former interior minister, matteo salvini, of his immunity. he now faces a trial for illegally preventing a boat carrying migrants from landing. over the past few weeks countries across the world have been evacuating their citizens from wuhan, the chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak. but pakistan has decided not to. secunder kermani reports from islamabad. currently i am in wuhan, and here i am living with my family, and this is an apartment where i am living with my wife and three kids. phd student asif and his young family have spent almost
the last three weeks inside their home in wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak began. it's very difficult for the kids to stay in the home for a long time period, because we are locked down for the last 20 days. his family back in the eastern city of faisalabad are desperate for them to be allowed to return. translation: they don't have enough to eat or drink, so we are really worried. they can't go outside. the children are very small. all the other countries have been taking their people out. our government isn't doing anything. china and pakistan are close allies. flights between the two are running now as per usual, but no—one from wuhan has been allowed to return for fear the virus could spread. chinese officials have praised the authorities here for not imposing a travel ban on all passengers from the country, and for trusting them to look
after those pakistani students stranded in wuhan. more than 500 students and citizens of pakistan in wuhan, they are safe and sound. they are well attended and looked after by the local government. and your embassy, the pakistani embassy in beijing, is also following the situation. this is my community, and i am outside the apartment. you can see here all the roads are empty. now, here i am in the vegetable market. as you can see, all these shops are closed. only one shop is open. there are concerns about how pakistan could cope with any outbreak of the coronavirus, and some pakistanis in wuhan say it is better they stay there. for others, they just want to come home. a cruise ship that has been turned away by five
countries, because of fears of the coronavirus, has arrived in cambodia after two weeks at sea. the 1,400 passengers on board the ms westerham will be allowed to disembark after undergoing health screening. the owners say no—one on board has fallen ill. south africa's president cyril ramaphosa is due —— torah prison breaking news, china's ruling communist has sacked its ruling official in hubei —— justice in breaking news. it was announced shortly after hubei announced a huge increase in the number of coronavirus cases and 242 new deaths, more than double the previous daily total. he is being replaced by the matt of shanghai, seen with elon musk. china has previously been
accused of suppressing the full extent of the epidemic in hubei. south africa's president cyril ramaphosa is due to give his annual state of the nation speech to parliament later in cape town. but can he make a convincing case that south africa is on the right track, and has turned the page on the years of corruption and mismanagement that preceded him?0ur africa correspondent andrew harding has been to the town of harrismith, where volunteers have taken on services that the municipality is supposed to provide. beautiful but broken. south africa is rotting from the bottom up. take the rural town of harrismith, now bankrupt. its entire infrastructure has now collapsed. we have a problem with water, electricity, sewage. do you think things will get that up? i don't think so. the problem is simple. for years, local officials have been looting the municipal budget.
they owed £300 million just for electricity. all this equipmentjust sitting idle feels like the town is dying. a broken sewage plant sends everything straight to the river. money laundering, corruption, that is the cause of this. people are relocating. they say we cannot live in this situation. next when you come it will be a ghost town. the corruption is pushing more south africans into poverty. across the country, municipalities lost or stolen more than £1 billion last year alone. no wonder there have been riots in this district. can the central government fix this? a new president has promised to tackle corruption, kicking out the council of harrismith and sending in a rescue team. investigations and criminal cases have then opened.
we think it will take a minimum of two or three years just to get the municipality back on its feet again. but that is probably optimistic. the fundamental question for south africa today is whether the rot, the corruption that has done so much damage to townsite this has become so entrenched that there is no fixing it. or whether, with the right determination and leadership this country can still clean up its act. in harrismith, some people are not waiting to find out. underwater, a local farmer unblocks a municipal pipe. instead of complaining about the water i said let's just fix it. let's not talk about the past, let's not point fingers at anybody, let's just fix the water. and dozens of volunteers rich and poor havejoined in. a local crisis group doing the council's work, and not just the easy stuff.
so you and your colleagues here got tired of rioting and decide on a different approach. we do not have time for teargas, we are done with that. done with rioting. this instead is the solution. well, it is part of the solution. the public mending a broken town, one blocked sewer at a time. can old mattresses be used to grow food? well, scientists in a syrian refugee camp in thejordanian desert are using mattress foam instead of soil to grow hundreds of plants. they're not just growing food for the camps, but are recycling piles of discarded mattresses and are providing a hobby for the people living there, many of whom were farmers back in syria. our science correspondent,
victoria gill investigates. gardening in the confines of a refugee camp. mohammad's family lost their home and their farm when they fled the war in syria. now, here in thejordanian desert, he's able to teach his children how to grow vegetables in a very unconventional way, using old mattress foam. it sounds like the garden has made this more of a real home. is that fair to say? translation: yes, absolutely, it makes me feel like i'm in my home village back in syria. about 80,000 people live here. this is essentially a city that sprung up in a very short period of time. most of the people that live here used to farm in syria and now there is very limited space. the soil is extremely poor. enabling people to grow their own food is a vital step towards making this a sustainable place to live. everything gets reused, repurposed. nothing gets thrown away.
on their sustainability mission to the camp, these scientists found that what was thought to be a problem here was actually the way to give everyone a garden. there was a warehouse full. and it was, "oh, we don't know what to do with these." there was no disposal mechanism. i'd been to a landfill site and seen a tomato plant growing on an old sofa. really? yeah, yeah, yeah. and that's why i knew it would work. this is hydroponics. the foam supports the plants, so there's no need for soil and this method requires much less water because it's kept where it's needed, rather than draining away. in zaatari, this whole system is made from recycled materials. this is just one of the plants. there's a whole, i don't even know how many are here, hundreds. old coffee cup, bit of foam, there's the old mattress, and thatjust pops in there so it can get all its nutrients. it's amazing. everything is recycled.
so far, more than 1000 people have signed up for demonstration sessions like this. everybody gets a starter kit. yeah. they get the starter kit and they take it back with them to home so they can start their own. right. it is spreading so fast and everybody is getting so interested. growing nutritious food in a place with limited water and limited space could provide lessons for urban environments all round the world. we could all end up living like this. you know, as climate change plays out who knows what's going to happen? translation: my whole family works with me on this. mohammed 110w works with me on this. mohammed now dedicates hours every day to his garden. translation: this knowledge we can share with our children, so
one day they can benefit from it and share it with their own children. here this was an idea born out of necessity, but it could help future generations grow nutritious food in the most challenging environments. victoria gill, bbc news, jordan. scientists in south america have unearthed the fossils of a giant turtle that was as big as a car. the discovery gives new insight into a reptile that could grow up to four metres in length — and weigh more than a ton. and it seems this particular turtle was built for battle. the bbc‘s tim allman reports. they don't make turtle shells like this any more. and they haven't for the best part of 7 million years. these are the fossilised remains of stupendemys geographicus, the stupendous turtle, one of the biggest of all time. how big you may ask? perhaps this image will give you a sense of scale. and this is an artist impression of what the giant turtle may have looked like in the wild. notice what appeared to be horns at the front of its shell. scientists believe these may be used as a weapon as male turtles competed over
territory and meeting rights. it is thought that this stupendemys geographicus roamed late south america 7 million years ago. it lived in a giant wetland system spanning what is modern day peru, colombia, venezuela and brazil before the amazon and orinoco rivers were formed. this is what that terrain looks like today. this dig in northern venezuela unearthing more fossils and more secrets. when the giant turtle prowled these parts it would have been a formidable sight. stupendous by name, stupendous by nature. that is just about it from me. i will be back in a couple of minutes with the headlines. in the meantime, you can get me on twitter any time at all. i'm
lewis vaughan jones. and twitter any time at all. i'm lewis vaughanjones. and you are watching bbc news. hello there. wednesday saw a break in all this wild weather as more parts of the country enjoyed some sunshine and the showers became fewer. mind you, it's still a wintry scene in the hills across the northern half of the uk and here in southern scotland in particular. it's still cold in scotland as well. we are seeing the weather changing, the wind is strengthening from the south—west, pushing in all the cloud. for many parts of the country we will find rain continuing overnight, pushing in from the south—west of england where it will be particularly mild. further north we still have cold air so it is notjust rain but also snow and even in the rush hour some snow falling in the central belt of scotland. most snow over the hills and central, southern england, and northern england and for northern ireland so it could be wintry for a while but it is mostly rain, even that petering out during the morning. further south, heavy showers and those will be driven
on by some gale force winds across southern england through the english channel and channel islands with gusts of 60 mph. the winds will ease down a bit through the afternoon as they push into eastern england. further north, an improving story with many places drying off and brightening off, still damp and grey and cold for south—east scotland and north—east of england. the area of low pressure bringing all that weather is going to push away during thursday evening and by the time we get to friday we have the next weather system approaching from the north—west. in between overnight, a ridge of high pressure and clearer skies and it will get cold enough for a touch of frost, maybe some icy patches and a few fog patches first thing. the wind will pick up as it is already in northern ireland in the morning where we see wind and rain here and that will come down from the north—west. snow over the mountains of scotland this time and elsewhere the snow will melt because we get
a south south—westerly wind, much milder and temperatures will rise, 8—12 degrees. not much rain for eastern parts of england. it is getting milder on friday and that mild weather continues into the weekend but we also see the arrival of this deepening area of low pressure that's running between scotland and iceland and that is storm dennis and dennis will be a menace through the weekend into monday. two main elements to the weather. first, the strength of the wind, widely gusting 50—60 mph. higher than that around some exposed coasts and hills. and there'll be very big waves as well. secondly, the rain. now, that's will be heavy at times, particularly across england and wales, over four inches of rain quite possible over the hills of wales and the south—west, threatening more flooding.
this is bbc news. the headlines: china's ruling communist party has sacked its top official in the province at the centre of the coronavirus epidemic. the announcement was made shortly after hubei reported a huge increase in the number of cases — and 242 new deaths, more than double the previous daily total. the italian far—right leader matteo salvini has responded with defiance, after the senate voted to strip him of his parliamentary immunity. mr salvini is now facing a trial for illegally detaining migrants at sea when he was interior minister last year. he said he would do the same again. pope francis has decided not to allow married men to be ordained as priests in remote regions where there is a shortage of clergy. a synod voted in favour of the proposal last year, but the pope has been under pressure from conservative factions not